BETHPAGE, N.Y., March 27, 2003 (PRIMEZONE) -- The U.S. Navy has completed the Operational Assessment series of test flights of Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE:NOC) Increased Capability (ICAP) III electronic attack weapon system for the EA-6B Prowler tactical jamming aircraft. The assessment, scheduled for two months, was completed in a month.
Under contract to the Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., a team led by Northrop Grumman's Integrated Systems sector developed the 21st century electronic attack system for the Navy's EA-6B Prowlers and the EA-18, the planned successor to the Prowler. A successful Operational Assessment is one of several critical steps leading to low-rate initial production of ICAP III, a decision expected this spring.
"System availability during the Operational Assessment was outstanding, which allowed the formal test schedule to be completed ahead of schedule," said Sam Abbate, director of the ICAP III program for Northrop Grumman's Airborne Early Warning and Electronic Warfare (AEW&EW) business area.
ICAP III brings an agile, selective-reactive jamming capability to the EA-6B Prowler, which flies the electronic warfare mission for the Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Air Force. Selective-reactive jamming will make the Prowler more effective against the frequency-agile radars of modern surface-to-air missile systems. Moreover, ICAP III can focus jamming energy on specific threat radars. The ICAP III upgrade also includes a new cockpit tactical display system (TDS), TDS interface and memory recorder unit.
The ICAP III OA test program was conducted by VX-9, the Navy's Operational Test Squadron, at the Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake, Calif. Using two test aircraft, the squadron flew approximately 30 flights, including 12 formal Operational Assessment events, during the one-month period to assess the potential effectiveness of the ICAP III system in a mission environment.
"All 12 events were completed as planned with no mission aborts. The backup flights planned were not required," said Abbate. "The fact that the aircraft and systems were up and ready for every event is absolutely remarkable for such a complex electronic warfare development system. It's also a testament to the entire ICAP III team, including the aircraft maintenance staff."
John Young, AEW&EW Systems' vice president for Electronic Warfare Programs, said, "The conduct of the multi-organizational China Lake OA team, which included about a dozen Northrop Grumman employees, was so seamless that you could not tell what organization or affiliation each member of the team represented. The plan now is for the operational test and evaluation force to analyze the data recorded from flight test and begin their assessment period to issue their formal report within 90 days."
The ICAP III system was developed in Bethpage, N.Y., and modified in AEW&EW Systems' St. Augustine, Fla., facility. The business area has been developing software with the Navy in Pt. Mugu, Calif. Key teammates for ICAP III development include two Northrop Grumman sectors -- Electronic Systems, Baltimore, Md., which provides the ALQ-218 Electronic Attack Receiver System, and the company's Space Technology sector in San Diego, Calif., which supplies the channelized receiver. Additional key team members are Integrated Systems' PRB Systems, Hollywood, Md., and Camarillo, Calif.; and, BAE Systems, Nashua, N.H.
"With the ground-to-air radar threats to our air forces becoming more difficult, we had to prepare the Prowler to counter them. We believe we accomplished that, and more, with ICAP III. It is the future of electronic attack," said Young.
Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems, headquartered in El Segundo, Calif., is a premier aerospace and defense systems integration enterprise with the capabilities to design, develop, produce and support fully missionized integrated systems and subsystems. Integrated Systems delivers best-value solutions, products and services in support of chosen segments within the broad market areas of battlespace awareness, command and control systems and integrated combat systems.
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